The Government of Australia has committed an A$2bn ($1.42bn) investment for the proposed fast rail link between Melbourne and Geelong in the state of Victoria.
The move is part of the government’s Plan for Australia’s Future Population initiative, which aims to mitigate pressure on big cities and support the growth of surrounding regional cities.
Once completed, the rail link will see trains travelling at a speed of 160km/h slashing the 80km journey time by half to 32 minutes.
Additionally, the Melbourne-Geelong fast rail will alleviate growing traffic congestion between the two cities, easing pressure on Princes Freeway and West Gate Bridge.
According to local media sources, the project is estimated to cost around A$4bn ($2.84bn), with the state government expected to provide the remaining A$2bn.
Construction works are expected to start within two years and will take around ten years to complete.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “This is all part of our plan to manage population growth that I announced this week to take the pressure off our big cities like Melbourne and make our regional cities like Geelong even more attractive places to live and work.
“As our population grows, fast rail networks are crucial to easing the congestion pressures in our cities and shaping Australia’s future.”
Under its 20-year fast rail plan, the federal government has invested A$40m ($28.4m) to carry out detailed assessments of five additional corridors, excluding the three already underway.
Based on the assessments, the government will prioritise funding and construction of the rail lines.
The government will also create a National Fast Rail Agency to guide the work and to coordinate with associated stakeholders.